Texas, New Hampshire, and Utah Top Annual Rankings of Small Business Friendliness

statesState and city governments that promote local business training and focus on ease of regulatory compliance are consistently perceived as being friendliest to small business, according to Thumbtack.com’s annual Small Business Friendliness Survey. Entrepreneurs’ perceptions of their tax burdens were among the least important factors in judging governments.

The survey, now in its fourth year, reached nearly 18,000 small business owners in the United States and asked them to rate their state and city governments across a broad range of policy factors. Thumbtack.com then evaluated states and cities against one another along more than a dozen metrics.

“Small business owners on Thumbtack have consistently told us that they welcome support from their governments but are frequently frustrated by unnecessary bureaucratic obstacles,” said Jon Lieber, chief economist of Thumbtack.com. “Given that there is a crisis of entrepreneurship in the United States, seen in the broad collapse of self-employment across industries and states, creating the right environment for business start-ups is more important than ever.”

Best and Worst Climates for Small Business

Top Ten Best-Ranked States

New Hampshire
Kansas Manchester, NH
Dallas, TX
Richmond, VA
Austin, TX
Knoxville, TN
Nashville, TN
Houston, TX
Fort Collins, CO
Boulder, CO
San Antonio, TX
Bottom Five Worst-Ranked
Rhode Island
New York

For complete results, please visit https://thumbtack.com/survey/.

How Can Your Business Keep Sensitive Information Safe In Today’s World?


By Anita Ginsberg

Security is a major issue for all businesses today. This is especially true for the sensitive or proprietary information within the company. The data needs to be protected from physical, online and unforeseen threats. Your business can take several steps to keep sensitive information safe in today’s world.

Tightly Restricted Access Permissions

The first step is to tightly restrict who has permission to access sensitive information. It should not be readily available to just anyone. Physical files should be accessible only to the people who directly need them at the highest levels. Use individual account permissions for each employee to restrict network access to sensitive data instead of broad generic logins.

Multiple Authentication Methods

Have multiple authentication methods for accessing sensitive information through your network. Require a physical authentication key and a password. You could even require some biometric authentication like a fingerprint.

Shred Your Documents and Other Waste

If you are disposing of potentially sensitive documents, then have them shredded. A professional service like Vital Records Control will ensure that all the documents are destroyed and are unrecoverable. You should also shred hard drives, disks and other digital media that might contain data.

Encryption and Virtual Private Networks

Encrypt all of the data on your drives and backup media. Use a file system that will encrypt everything whenever something is written to the drive even temporarily. Additionally, use virtual private networks whenever you must transmit data across public lines or the Internet.

Regular Security Audits and Trainings

Ensure that you have professionals perform regular security audits on your networks, processes and building. Make changes if weaknesses are found. You should also keep your staff trained in how to avoid security problems. The trainings should include not using social media, not allowing unauthorized workers into restricted areas and never using third-party apps on company devices.

Physical Security Systems

A final step is to install extensive physical security systems to protect your sensitive information. Start outside with fences and bright lighting. Have multiple locked doors protecting the central parts of the building. Security cameras and personalized access codes will allow you to track who is going where. This can protect your information, servers and documents.

You never want to take security for granted even if you are running a small business. Criminals are always going to be looking for ways to get sensitive information out of your company either physically or online. You must be proactive about all of your data. These tips will help your business to keep all important information safe.

Anita Ginsburg is a freelance writer from Denver, CO and often writes about business, finance, education and home. She graduated from Colorado State University in 2004. A mother of two, she enjoys traveling with her family when she isn’t writing.

To get help with all your small business issues, make an appointment with a SCORE mentor today.

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Bad Reviews? Don’t Lash Out

ThinkstockPhotos-463416365When you find a bad review about your website, don’t go on the defensive. First, make sure you’re following these steps:

  1. Create your own profile on review sites wherever you can. It’s better to be proactive and take charge of your own business profile so inaccurate information doesn’t appear anywhere on the Web.
  2. Sign up with every site’s tracking program—otherwise, you could spend your whole work day checking review sites for what’s being said.
  3. If you spot a fake review, contact the review site immediately. Most sites want to protect their own reputations and will help you solve the problem by either removing the fake review or investigating the reviewer.
  4. Take a look at your CRM system and find your best customers. Make sure you’re giving them the tools (and links) they need to give your business positive reviews.
  5. Don’t get in an online fight with a negative reviewer. Take the discussion offline and offer to make amends by phone or in a private email.
  6. Don’t forget bloggers! Industry bloggers may not have official review sites, but if they have a big enough following, what they say about your website could influence thousands of prospective customers. Set up a Google Alert for your products, services and website to keep track of what’s being said about you on the Web.